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Wednesday, 29 February 2012


"Women priests are treated as second-class Christians, suffering from institutionalised sexism and racism within the Church of England, female clergy claim." Well they would claim that, wouldn't they? That is the whole thrust of their argument. What utter balderdash. Even the Church of England, hell-bent on creating women bishops denies that: "The church does treat men and women equally...It is true that a higher proportion of women have tended to serve in self-supporting rather than stipendiary posts.... Decisions are made on the basis of their individual situation and not on the basis of their sex; much depends on their personal circumstances as well as their aptitudes."

But never mind the facts. This shabby campaign has little to do with religion and everything to do with secular feminism with their aim of "achieving equality within its ranks". In a Parliamentary debate on Women in the Church of England yesterday, Diana Johnson MP opened by "[paying] tribute again to the women and men who have been fighting for justice and equality in the Church of England for many years". She spoke about the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equality Act 2010, international women’s day, the suffragette campaign, and "the legislation in relation to women priests [which] went through in November 1992, but it specifically said that women could not become bishops"

No impediment there of course, merely the opportunity for another campaign. Contrary to the assertions that women priests are treated as second-class Christians, Ms Johnson stressed that: "There are now 3,000 women priests. The talents and abilities of both women and men are now being recognised and utilised by the Church. There are four female deans of cathedrals and many others in senior roles." Surely Ms Johnson would not mislead the House!

There was no surprise to see Sir Peter Bottomley quipping his way through the debate to make the point: "However, from 1928 to now, we have had arguments over the ordination of women as deacons rather than deaconesses and the decision, eventually, to ordain women as priests. Now we come to the decision—this could have been taken at the same time as the decision to ordain women as priests, but out of kindness to the last ditchers it was deferred —about women being ordained as bishops [my emphasis - Ed].

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry) made an interesting point: "Leaving nothing to chance, I have already had discussions with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons. Using the precedent of what happened in respect of the Measures for ordaining women as deacons and priests, it is deemed to be appropriate to consider this Measure on the Floor of the House, rather than upstairs in Committee. The understanding that I have reached with the Leader of the House is that we will set aside half a day—we hope, some time in November—to approve the Measure in this House. It has to be approved separately in the House of Lords, and I hope that it will do similarly. If the Measure is approved by General Synod in July, it is my ambition to do everything possible to have it pass all its legislative stages before the end of this year. We would therefore hope to see the first women bishops appointed as early as 2014." 

In her opening speech Ms Johnson remarked: "As I said, the draft Measure goes to the House of Bishops in May, and it can amend the reforms as it sees fit. If it does, that would be unacceptable to WATCH [my emphasis -Ed] and most senior women [can't be second-class then], because it would change the episcopacy in ways that would undermine the Church’s integrity and mission, as well as limiting female bishops’ ministry too far."

So it is all laid out. Carefully crafted claims that women bishops will be second-class bishops unless WATCH have their way and exclude all who disagree with them. Ms Johnson spoke of a 'broad church' but not broad enough to accommodate 'yesterday’s people', or Sir Peter's 'last ditchers' as they refer to their fellow Anglicans. Dishonour, deception and outright balderdash is the recipe for change 'to serve the people of today and tomorrow'. It almost makes one glad to be un-churched.

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